Motivation, effort, results, respect

Published 10:40 pm Monday, September 23, 2013

By Joseph L. Bass

Respect is important in America today. There is even a magazine titled “Respect.” My grandparents said there is state-of-being respect based on every person being a human. But action-respect comes from people being motivated to expend effort and achieve results.

From my grandparents’ point of view, there are too many Americans who deserve little action-respect because of their lack of motivation, effort and results. Their point of view comes from how they lived during the last part of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries.

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My grandparents, Joe and Maude Bass, grew up in the Chickasaw Indian Nation in what is now part of Oklahoma. We know little of my grandmother’s family, but much is known about my grandfather’s. They were originally from Hampton Roads during the Jamestown era. A distant cousin, Barry Bass, is chief of the local Nansemond Tribe. My ancestors slowly migrated across the South, eventually living among the Chickasaws.

My grandfather’s teenage occupation was as a cowboy driving cattle through Indian Territory to railheads. Although he had little formal education, during the Indian Nation period he eventually was town barber, undertaker and pharmacist. But under new Oklahoma laws that came with statehood he could qualify ony to be a barber.

My grandparents had a stable marriage and worked together as a team. Although they never owned an automobile, their results included three sons, all of whom did well in life.

My father’s older brother was handicapped. Both legs were broken in an accident as a child; during those times little medical care was available. He worked as a truck driver for many years and eventually was the parts manager in a Ford dealership.

My father’s younger brother worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and was eventually station master in Cleburne, Texas, and city mayor for many years. My father got a basketball scholarship to attend college, was a teacher and school administrator, and eventually a rehabilitation counselor for Oklahoma.

How did my grandparents achieve their results, with little education? Because of my grandparents’ motivation, efforts and results they were well respected in their community. From this respect they were able to secure a mortgage and purchase a piece of land about the size of four city lots on the edge of their town. All their cash came from my grandfather’s barber shop.

My grandmother planted and tended a large garden, from which came fresh vegetables. They also had fruit trees. My grandmother canned vegetables and fruit for the winter. They raised pigs for meat and chickens for meat and eggs. My grandfather had a number of bee hives. They also hunted game for additional meat. From barter and trade they got other commodities from neighbors. My grandmother sewed most of their clothes.

If my grandparents came back to life and saw how Americans live today, they would provide state-of-being respect, but they would hold many in low regard because of their lack of motivation, effort and results. Too many children live in fragmented homes with one parent. There are many who own land but have no garden, fruit trees, bee hives, etc. There are many who expect to live off wealth created by others who work for a living.

In America, too many people are not striving to do well in life. My grandparents did not accomplish their life results from any kind of “privilege.” They achieved their results from being a husband and wife economic team, working together for the well-being of their children and community. Folks would do well to follow their example.

Joseph L. Bass, Ed.D., is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at